Houston, We've Solved a Problem

written by:
photos by:
January 25, 2009
Originally published in A New Shade of Green
A bird flying over Houston, Texas, sees only a sprawling canopy of trees. It seems the perfect nesting place for creatures both avian and human alike; unfortunately, the green ends at the tree line. All of those leafy branches shade a city that appears to care little for sustainable design, with cars that chug gas by the low-mileage gallon and oversized houses that dominate the persistently expanding cityscape.
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  Designers Matt and Tina Ford created the concrete planters that dot the gravel courtyard.
    Designers Matt and Tina Ford created the concrete planters that dot the gravel courtyard.
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  Weathered wood tempers the gray stucco siding and provides a pleasant refuge in the community garden space.
    Weathered wood tempers the gray stucco siding and provides a pleasant refuge in the community garden space.
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  Inside the condos, the Fords’ penchant for rescuing and renewing is evident, from the many refugee animals that contentedly lounge about the house, to the salvaged gym floors in the kitchen.
    Inside the condos, the Fords’ penchant for rescuing and renewing is evident, from the many refugee animals that contentedly lounge about the house, to the salvaged gym floors in the kitchen.
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  The metal used for the railing and wood for the stair treads in the hall were saved from destruction and reused.
    The metal used for the railing and wood for the stair treads in the hall were saved from destruction and reused.
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  Naturally subtle tones predominate in the bathroom, with Walker Zanger stone floors complemented by sanded concrete walls and dark mahogany cabinets topped by a slab of white marble.
    Naturally subtle tones predominate in the bathroom, with Walker Zanger stone floors complemented by sanded concrete walls and dark mahogany cabinets topped by a slab of white marble.
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  In the living area, the family’s dogs Kirby and Forest commandeer beds that Matt custom designed for them, enjoying the view of the trees floating outside the floor-to-ceiling windows reflected in the recycled steel-frame mirror.
    In the living area, the family’s dogs Kirby and Forest commandeer beds that Matt custom designed for them, enjoying the view of the trees floating outside the floor-to-ceiling windows reflected in the recycled steel-frame mirror.
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  Unlike most Houston yards, there’s no grass to cut around these houses. Instead, the garden is gravel interspersed with low-maintenance plants like black bamboo, agave cacti, and foxtail ferns. Set inside concrete and steel planters that the Fords made themselves, 
the landscaping also hides protruding air conditioners.
    Unlike most Houston yards, there’s no grass to cut around these houses. Instead, the garden is gravel interspersed with low-maintenance plants like black bamboo, agave cacti, and foxtail ferns. Set inside concrete and steel planters that the Fords made themselves, the landscaping also hides protruding air conditioners.
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